Tuesday, February 15, 2011

There's always payroll room for outrageous NHL salaries

Score!: On Monday, I went to the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club pizza night thinking I'd either defend my title as the fan who buys Ryan Johansen a pizza, or I'd win nothing at all. I ended up with something in between. I won the auction for a hockey stick signed by all of our NHL draftees for the bargain bid of $65. There was nothing like meeting Ryan, but this will do very nicely, thank you.

The game: Edmonton Oilers 4, Dallas Stars 1. There is hope.

Mini bummer alert: The Flyers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in a shootout 4 - 3. I'm about to watch the replay, but I'm guessing it also involved Guy Boucher flipping his lid and yelling at refs. When you can't have victory, you can have hot French coaches bugging out en Francais. Game on.

As that festive time of year known as the trade deadline approaches, you may hear tell now and again that a team doesn't have salary cap room and therefore must dispatch a player, or that they have a lot of room and can afford to acquire bigger, better talent. What does it all mean, you may wonder? I think it has something to do with this:

Article 50, Team Payroll Range System: 50.5, Team Payroll Range System; Lower Limit and Upper Limit; Payroll Room; Lower Limit and Upper Limit Accounting.

Let's start with this: (a): Overview of Operation of Team Payroll Range. The Team Payroll Range created by this agreement consists of a Lower Limit and an Upper Limit during each League Year for permissible spending by each Club based on its Averaged Club Salary. Team Payroll provisions do not permit clubs to have Averaged Club Salary below the Lower Limit. Nor does the Team Payroll Range permit the team to have Averaged Club Salary above the Upper Limit, except for 2 limited exceptions provided in this Agreement, with respect to bona fide, long-term Player inuries or illnesses, as set forth in Section 50.1(d) and with respect to the "Performance Bonus Cushion" as set forth in Section 50.5(h).

Morals of the story:

The game: What's missing here is the third "as set forth in" provision that allows once great teams like the New Jersey Devils to acquire over-hyped, underperforming talent that demands $100 million plus over the next decade. Key to this provision is the requirement that the player is not required to pull their weight or produce key returns on investment like goals, assists or all around team leadership.

Life: We have lower and upper limits for salaries in Corporate America, but nothing says a certain salary is too high or too low. Hence most companies are "run" by executives who make too much and the actual work that keeps said companies really running is done by people who make too little. Companies should try the food service system, where everybody makes a flat fee as required by law and the real money is earned through tips for exceptional service. If you work on the top floor of a building and make more money than God while spending most of your day in your fantasy whatever league, making paper clip forts and waiting for someone else to tell you how to take charge, then you make your little flat fee and go home. On the other hand, if you work on the middle or lower floors, but you have gone above and beyond your job description each and every time you take on a task, then you get that automatic 20 percent gratuity they tack onto room service, plus whatever else satisfied customers add on top of it. You save diligently, buy a bar in Mexico and eventually end up serving little drinks with umbrellas in them to the CEO and his buddies who have all lost their hair, their jobs and their wives. Justice sometimes takes a while, but it's always worth it.

Next up: The second half of the overview, which defines "payroll room."

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